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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript - Budget

Interview

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CROWLEY (on-camera): President Obama will make the trek to Capitol Hill later this week. He'll speak to both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. It's a new tact that the president is taking, apparently, trying to woo rather than blame members of the legislative branch. Will it work? Earlier, I spoke with House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, about the president's outreach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: A lot of talk about the president reaching out to Republicans. Do you think that this in, any way, undercuts leadership?

PELOSI: No. No. Absolutely not. The president has always been very respectful of the views of the Republicans and the Congress, their leadership and their membership. He has always tried to accommodate them. This idea that, but for that we would have gotten all these other things done is just really not reality.

CROWLEY: Sounds like you don't think these meetings will work.

PELOSI: What, I think the meetings are a good idea because you understand each other better and you may get a measure of courage. Around here, it's all about courage. Who's going to really vote what they believe and fight for what they believe? And so, I think everybody takes a measure of each other at some of these meetings.

But they are not -- not having these meetings is not why we haven't had progress before. We haven't had progress before because the Republicans were committed to blocking the initiatives of President Barack Obama.

CROWLEY: Do you think that given these meetings, he's looking -- there's two ways to look at these meetings with the president. The first is that he's looking for, like-minded Republicans, where he might find some common ground. The other is that he wants to get to next year when he has committed to you lots of resources, including his personal time to return the House to Democratic hands.

That this is just another way to say, well, I talked to them and they still, you know, won't do anything. And what I really want is a Democratic Congress help me here.

PELOSI: I think it's important to note that all of us come here to get a job done for the American people. And certainly, that is the case with the president of the United States. He's been very bipartisan in his approach. So, I think that these meetings are not something to say, well, I'll do this with him now and I'll do that with him later.

I think it is, let's get some things done together to make elections less important. Let's come together for the benefit of the American people, first and foremost. That's our responsibility. So, if he can diffuse some of their opposition to some of these issues, bravo, again for the American people that we can get a job done. That's far more important than what happens in an election.

CROWLEY: Well, it is -- I guess, the reason I'm asking it is so many people have pointed to, you know, when Mitch McConnell said that his number one goal was to see that the president was a one-term president. The president has now committed to you and others that he wants to do what he can to help turn the House Democratic. Isn't that kind of the same thing?

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: -- that he should have looked at everything through a prism of the next election?

PELOSI: No, it is completely different, but thank you for the question. It's completely different, because when Mitch McConnell said that, he was talking about stopping, obstructing initiatives to create jobs, stopping initiatives that would show bipartisanship on the part of the president.

He wanted to show -- they want to show that he couldn't come to agreement with the Republicans simply -- it didn't matter what the subject was, they were not going to support it. The role of the leader of the party and the country is the president of the United States.

CROWLEY: So, you don't see this right away turning into any kind of legislative breakthroughs on big deals about the budget or any of that stuff?

PELOSI: I certainly hope it will. I certainly hope it will. I hope that it will create confidence that we can go forward with immigration reform, issues that relate to ending gun violence and to name two that are imminent and hopefully will have a path to have other legislation that helps to create jobs, to make our country more secure economically and in terms of our national security.

So, no, I certainly hope that it would, because one success can breed another success. Respect for each other's views, putting something together that is a compromise, a collaboration. That's what we come here to do.

CROWLEY: And certainly, I think I could hear a lot of Republicans saying that same thing. We're here to be collaborative, et cetera, et cetera.

PELOSI: I haven't heard them say that.

(LAUGHTER)

PELOSI: Maybe they say it to you.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about one issue that's out there, which is the continuing resolution to keep the government in business. you voted against it because you worry that it includes these automatic budget cuts.

PELOSI: Sequester. Yes.

CROWLEY: Sequester. And that it doesn't help the domestic side where these cuts are just sort of across the board. If the Senate should include some budget bills that dealt with, well-being maybe we can, you know, save this program and cut more from this program, could you see your way clear to approving the CR at the current levels, which is to say including the automatic budget cut up top line? PELOSI: Well, I'm as concerned about the approach to defense as well as to our domestic budget. But, we certainly are not going to have the government shut down. So, when we weigh the equities of the value of the bill, it's almost impossible for it not to be a better bill than what is written by the House Republicans.

But, they will have to send a bipartisan bill in order to get the 60 votes. I'm sure it will be stronger. And, again, depending on what it is and how many Republican votes it has, I've said very clearly, the Democrats will not allow government to shut down. CROWLEY: And finally, just on the issue of entitlements, do you think if there is reform in entitlements, that you can deliver most of your caucus?

PELOSI: Well, I would characterize what you hear in our caucus, we don't want to touch -- we don't want to hurt beneficiaries. We certainly want to strengthen Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid. We want to make them more fiscally sound. We want to make sure that for the purpose that they have been instituted, they're honoring that purpose and the taxpayer, and beneficiary are getting their money's worth.

So, we put a great deal in the Affordable Care Act to address the rising cost of health care in our country. Rising cost of health care in our country is the biggest contributor to the increase in cost in Medicare. So, stopping the drastic increase in the cost of health care is important for our whole economy and health care, especially important when it comes to Medicare.

This is already working. .4 percent, the rate of increase, much slower than it had been, and as I say, Medicaid not increasing. Now, we want to do better than that. And so, that's how -- if the point is to go to the table and strengthen these institutions, these pillars of economic and health security for the great middle class, which is the backbone of our Democracy, it's all about the middle class, then let's sit down and do that.

If the point of it is to take trophies, let's raise the age. That doesn't save money. It's a trophy. It's a scalp. But it's not a solution. And so --

CROWLEY: You're against it?

PELOSI: We wouldn't be engaged -- raising the age, I am very much against. But in terms of putting it on the table and keeping these things sound and guaranteed, we're all for that. We're not there to make them cash cows to give tax breaks to wealthiest people in our country and say we're balancing the budget.

CROWLEY: Leader Pelosi, thank you so much for your time.

PELOSI: I appreciate it. Thank you. My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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